How to Replace Baseboards

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Baseboards can take a lot of damage over time. Replacing them is one of those minor home repair projects that will instantly spruce up a room. If you have a free weekend, pull off that old trim and put up something snazzy.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife, pry bar or claw hammer
  • Replacement baseboards
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter saw
  • Nail gun or hammer and nail set
  • Wood putty and caulk (optional)
  • Remove the old baseboards. A putty knife, pry bar or claw hammer will help you gently pry the wood trim loose from the wall, without damaging the wall. When prying against the wall, pad the wall with cardboard, carpet scraps or thin wood.

  • Measure the baseboards you just removed to know how much molding you need to buy. Always buy about 15 percent more wood than you think you need to allow for cutting mistakes and other oops.

  • Begin in one corner of the room and take your first measurement. Resist the temptation to cut your new baseboards using the old ones as templates--always go to the source and measure the wall itself. Move around the room, marking down all your measurements and noting how the corners come together. This will determine what angles you cut on the ends of the baseboards.

  • Use a miter saw to cut the new baseboards. Miter saws can be adjusted to cut almost any angle, but for this project, you'll probably mostly use it to cut 45-degree angles. Test cut your angles on scrap pieces of wood trim to be sure the angles match up the right way. It's easy to get confused when you're thinking about angles, so take your time and practice to avoid messing up the actual molding. Remember that inside corners will meet on the finished side of the wood at the short face of the miter; outside corners meet on the finished side at the long face of the miter. When in doubt, look at the old baseboards.

  • Fit the molding into position without nails first to be certain everything is cut correctly. Make any necessary adjustments, then test the fit again, still without nails. Once you're satisfied with the fit, take the baseboards down and apply a finish to them if the wood isn't already finished.

  • Attach the baseboards to the wall. Again, start at one corner and work your way around the room. Use a nail gun, or pre-drill the holes and use a hammer and nails. Be sure to sink the heads of the nails below the surface of the wood with a nail set, then go back and putty the holes. Fill any gaps or imperfect joints with caulk, if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use safety glasses when operating miter saws and nail guns.

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